Two recent votes at the United Nations show Canada's preferred path towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons — saying no to a push for full-scale nuclear disarmament in favour of a treaty to ban bomb-making material.

However, a coalition of Canadian anti-nuclear activists criticizes the government for not backing a broader effort to work towards an outright ban on nuclear weapons.

The government favours the creation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty as a more realistic approach.

Canada is a member of the NATO military alliance, which has a policy of supporting nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion heralds the overwhelming adoption of Canadian-sponsored resolution at the United Nations General Assembly calling for the creation of a fissile material treaty.

More than 170 countries favour the creation of such a treaty, which would rid the world of the key ingredients needed for nuclear weapons.

Dion called the treaty "concrete progress on nuclear disarmament," as the vote approved the creation of a high-level group that would work on the elements of the pact.

However, the president of the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute criticized Canada for its decision to vote against another UN resolution on Thursday that would have started a process towards negotiations for a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

"Canada's vote against this resolution puts this country, quite simply, on the wrong side of history," said Peggy Mason, the institute's president and a former Canadian disarmament ambassador to the UN. "Canada was one of only a handful of countries to vote no."